Low Sex Drive

Inhibited desire is the most common sexual dysfunction, effecting one in three couples. 20% of married couples have a non-sexual marriage (being sexual less than ten times a year) and 30% of non-married-couples who have been together longer than two years have a non-sexual relationship. Desire problems can drain intimacy and good feelings from the relationship.

When low sex drive is mentioned, the spouse with the problem is usually categorized as the wife. However, there are many husbands who aren’t interested in sex either. Although men may not want to talk about having a low libido, not doing so may create anxiety and heartbreak in their wives. Since discrepancies in sexual desire can cause tremendous frustration, it is especially important for affection to be expressed when libido is low since it could be misinterpreted as indifference or dislike.

Of the three components that typically define a successful marriage – money, kids and sex – you only need two of them to have a relationship that survives. Some have gone beyond this to conclude that one of them has to be sex. Therefore, one partner’s loss of interest can be more than frustrating, it can be marriage-threatening.

While impotence and loss of libido are two separate things, men who experience impotence commonly experience a decrease in libido over time.

The arrival of a baby has been known to dampen sexual desire also. Nursing mothers’ hormones, including those that influence sex drive, are in flux for as long as they continue to nurse, and their limited enthusiasm for sex can effectively cool their mate’s desire also.


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Low Sex Drive

Symptoms - Reproductive - General  

Strong sexual desire

Risk factors for Low Sex Drive






Prolactin is the ultimate sex drive killer. A woman’s sex drive can almost completely disappear when prolactin levels are high. Many people are aware of this for some time after giving birth and while breast-feeding, when prolactin levels are naturally high.




Cushing's Syndrome / Hypercortisolism

In men, elevated cortisol levels may reduce sex drive.



Hypothyroidism can trigger loss of libido in both men and women.


Low Progesterone or Estrogen Dominance

Loss of sex drive often correlates with a progesterone deficiency, not an estrogen deficiency.


Low DHEA Level

DHEA is the precursor to testosterone. Low testosterone levels, which reduce sex drive, may be due to low DHEA levels.






Mental states such as depression and strong emotions such as anger can effectively cool sexual desire.

Low Sex Drive suggests the following may be present





Low Progesterone or Estrogen Dominance

Loss of sex drive often correlates with a progesterone deficiency, not an estrogen deficiency.


Low DHEA Level

DHEA is the precursor to testosterone. Low testosterone levels, which reduce sex drive, may be due to low DHEA levels.




Cushing's Syndrome / Hypercortisolism

In men, elevated cortisol levels may reduce sex drive.

Recommendations for Low Sex Drive


Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris)

In clinical studies on 212 patients, 85% of patients with reduced libido demonstrated improvement after 30 days and 94% after 60 days of treatment with tribestan, an extract of Tribulus. For 36 patients with chronic prostatitis and reduced libido, 75% reported favorable effects at the end of the treatment cycle.


Marapuama (Ptychopetalum olacoides)

In a study conducted in Paris, France, of 262 male patients experiencing lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain or maintain an erection, 62% of the patients with loss of libido reported that the extract of muira puama “had a dynamic effect”.


Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

Maca extracts enhanced the sexual function of the mice and rats, as evidenced by an increase in the number of complete intromissions and the number of sperm-positive females in normal mice, and a decrease in the latent period of erection (LPE) in male rats with erectile dysfunction. [Urology 2000 Apr;55(4): pp.598-602] A similar benefit has been reported in human males, but further trials are necessary to confirm this.

A human study confirms the rodent findings. Researchers at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, in Lima, Peru, performed a 12-week double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial in which active treatment with different doses of maca was compared with placebo. Men aged 21-56 years received 3gm of maca. An improvement in sexual desire was observed with maca at 8 weeks of treatment. Serum testosterone and estradiol levels were not different in men treated with maca than in those treated with placebo.

Another study was designed to determine the effect of a 4-month oral treatment with tablets of maca on seminal analysis in adult normal men aged 24-44 years old. Nine men received tablets of maca (1500 or 3000mg) for 4 months. Serum luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin, testosterone and estradiol levels were measured before and after treatment. Treatment with maca resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculation, and sperm motility. Serum hormone levels were not altered.



Conventional Drugs / Information

The most common medications that put a damper on sex include antidepressants, which inhibit arousal and orgasm; anti-inflammatories, which also hamper orgasm; ulcer medications, which lessen desire; and birth control pills, which limit desire and decrease lubrication. Diuretics and anti-anxiety drugs may have this side-effect also.



Low testosterone levels are frequently the reason for diminished interest in sex, both in men and in women.



The occasional use of androstenedione as a libido-enhancer in women has been reported, with onset of effects occuring within 30 to 60 minutes.

Lab Tests/Rule-Outs  

Test / Monitor Hormone levels

Midlife is a time when sex desire decreases for many women. Inevitably, in most men also, sex drive decreases with age. This is often due to declining hormone levels, especially testosterone. Hormone replacement is particularly effective at this time for restoring libido.


Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences



Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.


Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.


Profuse discharge from a body cavity.


An anterior pituitary peptide hormone that initiates and maintains lactation.


Diminished production of thyroid hormone, leading to low metabolic rate, tendency to gain weight, and sleepiness.


One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid produced by the adrenal glands and is the most abundant one found in humans. DHEA may be transformed into testosterone, estrogen or other steroids. It is found in the body as DHEA or in the sulfated form known as DHEA-S. One form is converted into the other as needed.


The principal male sex hormone that induces and maintains the changes that take place in males at puberty. In men, the testicles continue to produce testosterone throughout life, though there is some decline with age. A naturally occurring androgenic hormone.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.